After non-tendering Dan Jennings and Xavier Cedeno, the Milwaukee Brewers were left with super-reliever Josh Hader as the only remaining lefty in their bullpen. The team addressed that on Thursday afternoon, acquiring Alex Claudio from the Texas Rangers in exchange for a Competitive Balance pick.
Left-handed reliever Alex Claudio has been acquired from Texas in exchange for Competitive Balance Round A pick in the 2019 First-Year Player Draft. #WinterMeetings pic.twitter.com/ukUnmXZ2og
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) December 13, 2018
Brewers Acquire Lefty Alex Claudio
Claudio, 27 in January, has 230.2 career innings spread across five seasons, all of them with the Rangers. He owns a career 3.20 ERA. FIP agrees that his results match his skill set, as it pegs him at a 3.34 mark for his career. However, he is coming off of a down season, posting a 4.48 ERA and inflated 1.52 WHIP in 68.1 innings in 2018.
What Claudio Brings to Brewers
Claudio’s strengths are keeping the ball on the ground and throwing strikes. He has induced grounders at an excellent 62.5% rate for his career. Despite his funky sidewinding delivery, the southpaw has pinpoint control; his career walk rate is a minuscule 1.87 BB/9. Thanks to his ability to induce grounders, Claudio is great at keeping the ball in the park, allowing homers at a mere 0.59 HR/9 rate.
Because his style focuses on pitching to contact, Claudio could be a good fit with the Brewers. His struggles in 2018 can be pinned on poor batted ball luck. Despite inducing grounders 60.9% of the time, Claudio was tagged for an inflated .366 BABIP, which was well above his career BABIP of .312. He’s joining the perfect team to solve his bad luck. The Brewers do an excellent job of using infield shifts to take away hits; opponents managed a mere .281 wOBA against Brewer shifts, which was the sixth-lowest in baseball and second-lowest in the National League. This puts a sinkerballer like Claudio in a position to excel. His batted ball luck is highly likely to return to career norms next season.
Claudio has been death on lefties throughout his career. They have managed only a .216 wOBA and 27.5% hard contact rate against him. Righties have had more success, hitting for a .340 wOBA. Claudio is an excellent lefty-specialist, and he does have the ability to go multiple innings if necessary. He also gives the Brewers some roster flexibility; he has options remaining and is under control through the 2021 season.